Analysis. Strengthening the European war industry has now become a top priority of the Union. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will detail the strategic plan for the defense industry next Tuesday in Brussels.

European Socialists: ‘You cannot win a war only with words’

The mission is European rearmament, in the name of Ukraine. At La Nuvola in Rome, the Congress of the Party of European Socialists (PES) anointed Nicolas Schmit as its candidate for the leadership of the EU Commission, and key socialist and social democratic leaders strongly reiterated the policy of armed support for Kyiv. It’s a move that inevitably translates into support for the arms industry, as well as increased military spending by EU countries, coming after the call from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for all member countries to reach the 2% of GDP target in arms spending.

First of all, it was Candidate Schmit who stressed this in his investiture speech, in which he said his political family would “never let [the Ukrainians] down” and added that “we have to do more … [this is] absolutely urgent,” especially in the aftermath of the death of Alexei Navalny at the hands of Russia’s totalitarian regime.

Among the points in the ESP’s manifesto for the upcoming European elections on June 8 and 9, which was approved on Sunday by the delegates’ assembly along with their chosen candidate, we find: “Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is a turning point in history. It proves that greater collaboration and deeper solidarity is needed to face the new international environment. […] We maintain our unwavering support for Ukraine, providing political, humanitarian, financial and military assistance for as long as needed.”

So, the policy is to provide military assistance for as long as needed and do so quickly. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, also speaking on the La Nuvola stage, put it in stark terms: “We must not only continue to support Ukraine, but we must amplify our assistance and … to uphold our promises, especially when it comes to ammunition. You cannot win a war only with words.” PD Secretary Elly Schlein also stressed the unconditional support for Kyiv “with all necessary means.” However, she also reiterated the words of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz dismissing the specter of sending ground troops to Ukraine, which French President Emmanuel Macron had raised as a possibility on Monday and which would result in an inevitable clash between NATO and Russia.

Scholz, also speaking from the stage of the Rome Congress, rejected the French scenario (“we will not send European soldiers to Ukraine, we do not want a war between Russia and NATO and we will do all we can to prevent it”), while reiterating that “the war in Ukraine ends the moment that President Putin decides to withdraw his troops.” The SPD leader countered Paris’s line with his authority as the head of government of the EU’s largest country. Furthermore, Ukraine was the topic of a bilateral meeting he had with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, at the head of one of the governments least persuaded of the pro-arms delivery line.

According to the German Chancellor, to ward off the extreme possibility of boots on the ground on Ukrainian soil, it is necessary to act in a twofold direction: on the one hand, the EU must ensure that Kyiv “doesn’t run out of money, weapons and ammunition.” On the other, it is necessary “to invest more in our own security and defense, jointly as Europeans, so that no one dares to attack us … and … build a strong and truly European defense industry.”

Strengthening the European war industry has now become a top priority of the Union. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will detail the strategic plan for the defense industry next Tuesday in Brussels. At the Munich security conference, she already announced her willingness to create the post of EU Defense Commissioner if re-elected for a second term.

While stocking up on arms for Kyiv, the Eurosocialists are, however, distancing themselves more and more from Netanyahu. Speaking of the need to respect international law and avoid collective punishment against Gaza, Nicolas Schmit said: “I am a friend of Israel, but I never forget that this government” in Tel Aviv is “a far-right, extreme-right government.” That is why “it is our duty to urge for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza,” support “efforts to restart the peace process,” “free the hostages” and “an international peace conference … to achieve an equitable two-state solution,” the PES’s lead candidate concluded.

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